THIS is why progressives are ticked at Obama

The Obama Administration sides with polluters in the key climate change case. Maybe Bernie Madoff for head of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency?

This is pretty self-explanatory:

The Obama administration has urged the Supreme Court to toss out an appeals court decision that would allow lawsuits against major emitters for their contributions to global warming, stunning environmentalists who see the case as a powerful prod on climate change.

Read the whole thing.  It’s hard for me to tell whether this is craven or stupid.  Note that the SG didn’t have to take a position on this case.  This represents the administration going above and beyond the call of duty to undermine the chances of a sensible energy policy.  Yes, a comprehensive statute would be better.  And you know what?  It ain’t going to happen.

This isn’t about sensitive negotiations in Congress.  This is purely executive decision.  You don’t have to deal with Ben Nelson on this one.  You don’t have to get Joe Lieberman’s vote for cloture.  This was a time when the administration could signaled to its allies that it is on their side, that it will stand with them.  And instead, it did just the opposite.  Then it will wonder why progressives won’t show up to the polls.

What about just allowing the EPA regulatory process to go forward?  The 2nd Circuit allows that.  In fact, it helps that process by saying that it cannot rule on the displacement question until EPA climate change regulations are final.  So if the utilities sue over those regulations, and hold them up in court, then they have to face the consequences of the common-law claim.  In other words, the SG’s brief represents an invitation for the polluters to sue EPA.

What next?  Bernie Madoff as the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency?

Mark, care to give us the party line on this one?

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

11 thoughts on “THIS is why progressives are ticked at Obama”

  1. Oh, for F—-'s SAKE. You have GOT to be kidding me.

    Why the &%#@ have the EPA power to regulate carbon then?! Gaaaaaaah! In fact, when Johnathon writes:

    "What about just allowing the EPA regulatory process to go forward? The 2nd Circuit allows that. "

    this is _exactly_ what I thought was in BHO's back pocket when he didn't fight for the flawed Cap'n Trade bill. He was going to fall back on this. That was the threat. The ace in the hole.

    UN-believeable.

    Who got to him, one wonders. Someone got to him. It's like a Kafka novel. Too bad there is no way you can vote him out, as the alternative may very well push us over a cliff. What has happened to our country?

  2. Try this again:

    You have GOT to be kidding me.

    Why give the EPA power to regulate carbon then?! Gaaaaaaah! In fact, when Johnathon writes:

    "What about just allowing the EPA regulatory process to go forward? The 2nd Circuit allows that. "

    this is _exactly_ what I thought was in BHO's back pocket when he didn't fight for the flawed Cap'n Trade bill. He was going to fall back on this. That was the threat. The ace in the hole.

    UN-believeable.

    Who got to him, one wonders. Someone got to him. It's like a Kafka novel. Too bad there is no way you can vote him out, as the alternative may very well push us over a cliff. What has happened to our country?

  3. All too believable. I hate to sound like a libertarian, but every time the Admin has a choice between ceding some — any — executive authority, whether or not in a good public policy cause, they choose power. I suppose it's only a surprise to those ushered into high level meetings in early 2009, and given the 'thanks for all your effort during that long night, we really appreciated you work' pep talk. And then only once.

  4. CharleyCarp,

    Your story saddens me. Still, let me say thanks for your work. It was high patriotism, among other things.

  5. My guess is this is meant to counter the anticipated attempts to kill EPA funding of carbon regulation under the Clean Air Act. If the Repubs and some idiot Dems kill the funding, then on remand this will sail through without a problem.

    Everything on climate revolves around budget next year, IMHO. The Repubs don't need 60 votes and might not need to override a veto, they just need a majority to stick a rider in must-pass budget legislation. The nuisance legislation will be the counterweight that would reduce incentives to go along with the Repubs.

    Just a guess….

  6. But Brian, if climate work is endangered at EPA through budget legislation, then why would the Obama Administration get rid of its own counterweight?

  7. Seems to me that if next budget zeros out enforcement of regulations, then either these nuisance suits could proceed, or if they've already been dismissed by that time, then new nuisance suits could proceed. This is the threat/promise Obama can offer – let the regulations go through (or less likely, pass climate legislation), and the nuisance suits go away. Kill the budget for the regulations, and you'll have to deal with the nuisance suits.

    I'm very open to correction if I've misinterpreted this. And I'm not saying I prefer this approach – I'd rather have both the nuisance suits and the regulations, both of which push Congress towards climate legislation.

  8. Can anyone give a good reason WHY Obama could justify the unnecessary intervention to the workings of the EPA?

  9. Not sure what you're saying Paul, but if you're referring to the nuisance suits as unnecessary intervention, then I'd say they're good backup coverage for environmental harm that EPA regulation could miss, like the minor nuisance of an Alaskan village sinking into the ocean after the loss of sea ice accelerated coastal erosion.

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